Fleeing From a Winter Wonderland - A First-Timer's Disney Christmas-Completed 12/9/09

tinawv

Dis Veteran
Joined
Jun 28, 2000
Interesting trip report so far. How was your transportation back and forth from the hotel to WDW?
 

All7OfUs

<font color=darkorchid>We too are so very NOT into
Joined
Dec 12, 2007
I wondered that too. Renting a car may or may not be in the budget next time, and if we end up off prop. I'd be very interested in communting times.
 

Vexorg

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Interesting trip report so far. How was your transportation back and forth from the hotel to WDW?
The Downtown Disney hotels have their own set of buses to and from the parks (and DTD in the evenings.) There are two bus routes (one that goes to the Hilton, Regal Sun and Doubletree, and one that goes to the other three DTD hotels,) and two lines for each: One goes to Magic Kingdom (actually it drops off at the TTC) and Animal Kingdom, and the other goes to Epcot and DHS. The evening DTD run stops at all six hotels, then drops off passengers at the Pleasure Island, and goes until 2am. There's also the option of walking over to the DTD Marketplace bus stop, but you can't get to a park from there without transfering at a resort. They also have special bus runs that go to the Hilton only during evening EMH (since the Hilton is the only DTD hotel that has EMH access.) I've heard they also run one morning EMH bus from the Hilton, but I was never up early enough to try this.


I tried going both ways, and I don't think that either one is quicker than the other (the DTD hotel buses make more stops along the way, but since you have to transfer on the Disney buses it's probably a wash on which one is quicker. That said, on the Disney side you could also take a bus to one of the Monorail resorts and then hop a Monorail to MK or the TTC to transfer to the Epcot monorail.) The DTD buses are a little bit nicer than the Disney ones, but they also have TVs with Stacy running on infinite loop, just in case you're feeling a little too sane. The main drawback to the DTD hotel bus is that at the TTC and Epcot they drop passengers off in the charter lots, well away from the gate and the Monorail station, which isn't so bad going in, but can be a pain on the way out when you're worn out after a day of walking around the parks. At DHS the walk isn't so bad, and I can't be certain about AK since I didn't make it there on this trip. I also found it odd that the DTD buses had signs suggesting that the drivers accepted tips, which I found a bit odd. I only rode the Disney buses a couple of times, but I didn't see anything like that. Do those drivers accept tips as well?

One advantage of the Hilton is that you're right across the street from DTD Marketplace, and since the hotel bus to DTD drops people off near the entrance between Pleasure Island and Marketplace (but still far enough away to require some walking to get to either) there isn't much point in taking the DTD bus from the Hilton unless you're going specifically to PI. For the West Side, it would probably be quicker to just walk to the dock and take the water taxi across.

A car might have actually been nice to have (if for no reason other than to have some better late night dining choices than ripoff hotel food and a chance to explore more,) but the cost of renting, combined with parking fees at the hotel plus parking fees at the parks would have made it a somewhat expensive proposition. Taking taxis from the hotel to the park would probably have actually been cheaper than parking fees for the duration of my trip. Given the amount of time spent traveling around, I'm half tempted to just book the Contemporary or Polynesian next time and call it good, but I think those are probably a bit out of my budget right now. I suppose for the price I got the room for, I can't complain too much though.

I'll discuss some of the transportation methods I tried as I proceed with the TR. Some worked out OK, others not so much.
 
  • Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    I should probably keep going with this...

    Part 5: A Slight Change of Plans (or, I KNEW I should have turned right at Osceola...}

    In spite of my rather late bedtime, I set an alarm for 7:30 in the morning, and sure enough, the alarm did as I said and not as I meant, and actually decided to go off at 7:30. Since I'm not exactly the type who does the whole "bright and early" bit (pick one, you're not getting both,) I hit the snooze button for an extra hour (I use my Windows Mobile phone as an alarm, and you can tell it how long you want it to snooze for, from 5 minutes all the way up to the "Rip Van Winkle" setting if you've decided to give up on doing anything productive for the rest of the decade. I then slumbered semi-blissfully unaware as the ropes prepared to dropthroughout the land, and I wasn't going to be at any of them. Finally 8:30 rolled around, and it was time to get up and figure out what I was going to do for the day. Aside from planning to be at the Magic Kingdom for the evening EMH, I hadn'r really planned anything specific for the day yet. After taking a look at the schedule, I decided that I would head for Epcot first, then to MK later in the day. In theory, at least. That plan lasted for all of... well, about as long as it took to get to the bus stop.

    I grabbed a few things to put in my LGMH-equipped monopack to take into the park (I figured it might be a bit more socially acceptible than a purse)and headed out the door, not bothering to give more than a passing thought to breakfast (I'm not much of a breakfast person anyway, so most days on this trip I didn't eat until later in the day.) Since I hadn't exactly paid attention the evening before when I checked in, I ended up wandering around the hotel grounds a bit before I actually managed to figure out where the bus stop was (it's in the back, over near the restaurants, for anyone who's wondering.) Eventually I found it, and after a few minutes of waiting, the bus arrived... for the Magic Kingdom. Since I was already getting a bit of a late start, didn't really know my way around the place yet, and wasn't really all that set on my plan anyway, I went ahead and hopped aboard the bus. As it left, I saw the Epcot/DHS bus pulling in right behind it. Oh well, there's time for that later.

    As discussed above, the bus stopped at two other hotels (the Regal Sun and Doubletree,) and by the time it eventually made it's way toward the TTC, it was fairly crowded. When we got there, it turned out that the drop-off point was a fair distance from the monorail entrances, and it was going to take a bit of hiking to get there. Once I finally figured out where I was going, I saw that there were a number of people waiting for the monorail, so I decided instead to just take the ferry into the park. After all, as a Disney World first-timer, wouldn't it be more magical that way?



    As I boarded the ferry, I saw the monorail approaching on the track.



    As the ferry departed from the dock, the Magic Kingdom began to appear off in the distance.



    On the boat, I noted that the flag seemed to be a couple of stars short for some reason. I didn't find out until later (in a random trivia thread on the Theme Park Strategies board) that the reason for this is because older style flags are considered "pennants" and do not need to be retired at the end of the evening.



    As the ferry came closer to the Magic Kingdom, I got this picture, which seems to make it look like the castle is sitting right next to the train station. Finally, the ferry arrived, and it was time for the first glimpse of Main Street decked out in Holiday splendor...



    As you can see, I didn't exactly have the park to myself that day. I ended up cutting through the shops on the left side of the street to get past some of the crowds. It's kind of odd how the forced perspective on the buildings makes the decorations look like they're hung a lot lower than they actually are, doesn't it?



    The obligatory castle shot. Doesn't look quite so big from back here, does it? Then again, I'm used to the Disneyland one which is much smaller...



    As I made my way to the end of Main Street, I headed first toward the Adventureland side of the park, intending to make the Jungle Cruise my first ride. I found that there was about a 20-minute wait, so I grabbed a Fastpass (with a fairly short return time) and headed next for Pirates of the Caribbean. Along the way, the Pirate Tutorial was just beginning, and I very nearly got run over by Jack Sparrow. Who does he think he is anyway, some sort of pirate? PotC was a walk-on at this point, but there seemed to be a back-up of some sort at the unloading queue, and a bunch of boats ended up waiting in the jail room for about 10 minutes while they got it sorted out. Finally, they managed to get things sorted out, and I was off to find the Haunted Mansion, which turned out not to be where I had expected it based on my previous trips to Disneyland, just a "this area is under refurbishment" wall.



    After just about accidentally wandering onto Splash Mountain (also not exactly where I would expect it to be) I eventually found my way around the lake to the Haunted Mansion, where I took the first of what would be several rides on this during the trip. The wait was short (and I don't think I ever waited more than about 5 minutes or so to ride it.) By the time I was done with that, it was time to head back to the Jungle Cruise with my Fastpass.



    Running them down the side of Splash Mountain, on the other hand, is perfectly OK.



    I can't say that I'm all that familiar with the standard Jungle Cruise spiel (I only got to ride it once on my last Disneyland trip) but I could tell there was plenty of improvising going on here. He let a ten year old "steer" the boat and frequently commented on her driving skills. Things were going pretty well right until...



    ...These baby ducks showed up right near the unloading dock, at which point he knew he had been completely upstaged, and just gave up, apparently overwhelmed by the sheer cuteness of it all. He even "complained" to the unloading CMs about it.



    Anyway, after the Jungle Cruise I next headed toward Fantasyland to grab a Fastpass for Peter Pan (with a return time a couple of hours away) and with some time to kill, I went to see Philharmagic next. Since I have some eye problems that prevent me from being able to "see" 3D movies much of the effect was lost on me, but the kid in the seat next to mine sure seemed convinced. After that, for some unknown reason I next headed toward Small World, fully aware of the dangers that await inside...



    Just as I got there, the clock scene went off signaling Noon. I think it took about a 20 minute wait to actually get on the ride at this point.



    While riding, I made a number of attempts to take photos inside the ride without using the flash. My camera doesn't do a great job of this, but occasionally gets one or two good pictures. Here's the one that turned out best from the ride. After sailing happily around the world (others might insert other adjectives there,) we got to the end of the ride... and promptly got stuck again at the goodbye room. It took about 10-15 minutes before we were able to unload from that point, and if I had been in there much longer I think there's a good possibility I might have gotten the "please remain seated" spiel stuck in my head for the rest of my life. I suppose that given the alternatives that wouldn't be so bad.



    Next on the agenda was lunch, so I headed over toward Columbia Harbor House, where I got the fish and chips for lunch (or breakfast, as the case might be.) The place was busy, but kept things moving (a CM was directing traffic) and I was able to get food fairly quickly. I found the fish and chips to be so-so, and I've definitely had better (then again, with some of the places we've got for fish 'n chips here in the Seattle area, we're a bit spoiled in this regard.) Columbia Harbour House is an interesting little place, but it can be just a bit hard to find your way out of (I somehow ended up taking a set of stairs which was roped off at the lower floor, but not at the upper floor.) Eventually I found my way out and headed back to use my Peter Pan FP, but didn't realize I still had an hour left before it was usable until the CM pointed it out. I blame lack of sleep.



    With more time to kill, I headed toward Tomorrowland, and made a beeline for the TTA. I had been on the Disneyland Peoplemover once before it was removed (and I really wish they'd hurry up and bring it back), and wanted take a ride.



    I think this one of about five photos total that have me in them from this trip. Next time if I'm still traveling solo, I should make sure to use Photopass...



    For some reason, Space Mountain seems a lot farther away in this shot than it actually is. All the Forced Perspective tricks Disney uses sure seem to mess with your head after a while...



    As we went of Space Mountain, I happened to catch the train passing by. Kind of an odd thing to see in Tomorrowland, don't you think?



    After getting off the TTA, I saw Buzz Lightyear visiting kids and briefly thought about getting in line, but decided against it (well that's what I'll claim, but in reality I was probably just getting lost trying to find the CoP line. Oddly enough, I never actually made it onto CoP on this trip...)



    After that, I next headed over toward Space Mountain for what would turn out to be my only ride of the trip (and what would have probably made a much better use of a Fastpass than Peter Pan, come to think of it) but not before wandering through the arcade a bit to check it out. I've always been something of an arcade junkie (in fact, I have an arcade machine here in my office at home) but since I generally try to avoid spending time playing video games while I'm on vacation, I didn't bother actually playing anything. After that, I got into the standby line at Space Mountain, which took about 30 minutes of waiting. I actually got a call from my Mom just before boarding (apparently outer space has great wireless reception these days) but it was too loud to really hear, so I told her I'd call back afterward.



    Based on reading here I had heard all the rumors (since confirmed) about the Space Mountain rehab coming up, and although I didn't feel like the ride was all that bumpy (as some people had talked about) I found the really loud lift chains to be particularly distracting and an immersion breaker. I have been on the updated Disneyland Space Mountain several times (it was the only ride we needed to use a Fastpass on during that trip,) and the difference between the two is pretty clear. On one hand, I can see the need for the rehab to get this back into shape, but on the other hand, there's something to be said for some of the older rides like this one, and keeping things entertaining without all the bells and whistles. I guess I'll have to see what the new Space Mountain ends up looking like when all is said and done, but I'm just glad I got a chance to ride this one at least once before it gets redone.

    Anyway, since this is starting to get long at this point, I will leave off here for now, and finish off Day 1 in the next post...

    Coming Up: Part 6 - Can't I Get Just a Little Bit of Pixie Dust Here? (In which a Fastpass turns out not to be so fast. Also, who's going to run out of juice first, me or the camera?)
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    And now we pause for a quick side note...

    After being delayed by a week by the not-so-great weather around here, my one big souvenir purchase from the trip finally arrived here today...



    It's a character sketch done by the artist at the Art of Disney store in DTD, signed and framed. It's definitely not the cheapest thing in the world to buy, but with a small animation art collection decorating my office here at home I thought something like this would look nice, and all things considered, the price actually wasn't that bad especially for a hand-drawn piece (I paid $85 for the artwork, framed and shipped.) I could definitely see myself getting more of these on future trips.
     

    Disneyfan71

    Paging Mr. Morrow, paging Mr. Tom Morrow, your par
    Joined
    Nov 11, 2008
    Thanks for sharing your TR with us...It was fun seeing the pictures you took. I'm a bit sad that Space Mountain will be closed when we're there..but it needs some work done to it. The last time I rode it...oh my goodness.!!!
     

    All7OfUs

    <font color=darkorchid>We too are so very NOT into
    Joined
    Dec 12, 2007
    I had never heard of that little bit of trivia about the "pennant" before. How cool!! I will definitely take a picture of that next time! Thanks for that; I always love learning something new!
     
  • Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    And continuing on...

    Part 6: Can't I Get Just a Little Bit of Pixie Dust Here? (in which I use a not-so-fastpass, and discover that there are some things you actually can't find in the souvenir shops.)

    Anyway, after getting off of Space Mountain, I went looking for a semi-quiet place to call my Mom back (Apparently Tomorrowland isn't the best place to look for this type of thing. Eventually, I started wandering down a (somewhat) quieter path that led from Space Mountain as we talked, mostly about the standard parental concerns that tend to accompany having one's son being flung across the country in a claustrophobic pressurized cylinder (although as a seasoned traveler herself, I don't think she was too worried about this.) While she was growing up she was a frequent visitor to Disneyland along with her brothers and sisters, and is the only person in the family that has been to WDW before, and that was for one day at a time on two separate occasions. Anyway, after talking for a few minutes, I said goodbye and found myself over near the Toontown Fair area.



    On the way into the park this morning, I had done a bit of cursory looking through the gift shops on Main Street to see if there were any greeting cards available anywhere, but was unsuccessful, so I tried at the big giftshop in Toontown once again, to no avail. During the time that I would be here, my parents would be celebrating their anniversary, so I had the idea to try to send home an anniversary card signed by Mickey and Minnie. Unfortunately, aside from a relatively meager selection of postcards, there wasn't anything even remotely appropriate available that I could find for the purpose. After wandering through the gift shop a bit (and noting that it would have been a 70 minute wait if I wanted to go visit the fairies for some reason) I grabbed some random postcard off the shelf, paid for it, and went over to Mickey's house to see if there was any way I could go meet Mickey without spending an hour in line.



    Although I suspect there are some people who would find places like this to be boring, Mickey's House is the type of place that if I didn't have a looming Fastpass arrival time I could spend quite a bit of time looking around to see all the little details that were put in. Think that's a fake tree?



    Of course, the place was decorated for the holidays.



    I'm not even going to ask how this would have happened.



    Another bit of detail that most people are going to miss, especially with some of the inside jokes and somewat obscure references that most of the people who consider High School Musical to be Disney's greatest contribution to society would completely miss.



    Now what would you put in something like this anyway, a harp and a halo?

    Anyway, after wandering through the house for a bit, I went over to the line to meet Mickey, and found it a bit longer than I would have cared to stand around in, so I turned back around and headed out. By this time, it was finally time to use my Peter Pan Fastpass, So I headed back toward Fantasyland at this time, where I then got into the Fastpass line for Peter Pan... Or at least I thought it was the Fastpass line, because it didn't seem all that fast if you ask me. I didn't check the regular line wait time, but I'm pretty sure it was over an hour by now, but even the FP line seemed rather long, and I think by the time I actually got on the ride I had spent at least 20 minutes waiting in the FP line. As for the ride itself, there was a short delay while flying over the London scene, but even with that, it seemed like it took all of two minutes to ride through it.

    After disembarking the Peter Pan ride, I proceeded back toward the most incredible part of Fantasyland...

    It's amazing...

    It's colossal...

    It's stupendous...

    It's...



    ... The backside of the castle! OK, sorry, I guess I've been spending too much time reading lists of Jungle cruise jokes lately.

    Anyway after passing under the castle, I saw that people were beginning to claim spots for the afternoon parade, but it was still about a half hour off at this point, so I went back through the hub toward Tomorrowland again, where I saw that Push the Garbage can was out near the entrance to Tomorrowland...



    I don't think there's too many other places in the world where a trashcan can draw a crowd like this. I ended up watching for a bit (didn't interact with Push at all though) and headed toward Buzz Lightyear, where I found that the line was somewhat long, but the Fastpass return time was fairly short, so I grabbed a Fastpass and headed back toward the Hub to stake out a spot for the parade. Along the way I was getting a bit hungry, so I grabbed some popcorn, and then went looking for a decent parade spot, but found that by this time, such spots were in rather short supply (I'm definitely NOT the type of person who has enough patience to stake out a parade spot an hour in advance like you're apparently supposed to if you want to actually see anything.)



    Eventually I settled on a not-entirely-obstructed spot in the hub looking toward Liberty Square entrance, (either that, or it's where I happened to be when the parade arrived in the area.) Having not entirely having thought through my prior snack choice, I found myself trying to juggle a camera and a half-eaten box of popcorn trying to get some shots of the parade. I have quite a few shots, and if the person who happened to be in front of me was wondering what the back of their head looks like I've got some great shots of that. Shots of the actual parade... not so much. Here are a couple I did get though...



    Is it just me, or does Pinocchio seem awfully leggy for a magically animated wooden puppet?



    Someone should really tell Doc that he forgot half of his instrument.



    And how is it that they can manage to go from Aladdin...



    ...to Mary Poppins in the same float? Seems a bit of an odd juxtaposition, if you ask me.



    After that, the obligatory flat full of villainy arrived. Although I'm not quite up to speed on my Disney movies, I think I recognize most of the villains here. On the other hand, who's the guy sitting in the boiling cauldron of evil down there? Do they have auditions for the part of "Guy sitting in the boiling cauldron of doom as assorted villainy gloats over him"? I'm guessing he's the one driving the float, but couldn't they at least give him some sort of bungling minion costume or something like that?



    Meanwhile, as the parade passed by, the sun decided to break through the clouds for the first time all day. This should also give you idea of how far back I was watching the parade from.



    Just as the last float in the parade began to pass by, my camera began flashing the dreaded low battery warning. I took this as a sign that this would probably be a good time to head back to the room to recharge (both me and the camera), but I still had a Buzz Lightyear FP to use, so I headed back in that direction, and arrived with about five minutes left until the FP window opened. I decided to sit down and wait for a few minutes, and then went on the ride (I have to say I much prefer the Disneyland version with the non-fixed aiming,) and after riding, I headed toward the exit, took the monorail back to the TTC, and made the long walk back to the bus stop, where I waited about 15-20 minutes for the bus to arrive. The bus wasn't crowded, but there was an ECV that needed to be loaded, so it took about an extra five minutes before we could get underway, and on the way back there was also a pickup at Animal Kingdom (which is as close as I would get to there on this trip) before we got back to the hotels. When I got back to the room, I put the camera battery on the charger, got out my notebook to check a few things, and then went down to the pool for a brief swim to cool down a bit (as mentioned previously, this would be the only time on this trip that I would make it to the pool.) After swimming for a bit (the pool was all but empty,) I headed back to the room and got dressed again, preparing to return to MK for Wishes and the evening EMH, which is where I will pick up in the next post.

    Coming up: Going Out to Socialize with Grim Grinning Ghosts (in which I probably stay up way past my bedtime, and find out if things really do turn into pumpkins at Midnight...)
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    Thanks for sharing your TR with us...It was fun seeing the pictures you took. I'm a bit sad that Space Mountain will be closed when we're there..but it needs some work done to it. The last time I rode it...oh my goodness.!!!
    I wish I had had more than one chance to ride it (I suppose that's my fault though, since I should have grabbed an FP when I had the chance) but as I said, it wasn't the rough ride that I found distracting, it was the loud lift chain. In space, nobody can hear you clanking your way up the lift hills...

    I had never heard of that little bit of trivia about the "pennant" before. How cool!! I will definitely take a picture of that next time! Thanks for that; I always love learning something new!
    I found the explanation a little bit odd myself (especially since there is nothing that would suggest the boat is from, or even a replica of anything from the time when the US had 48 states,) but I suppose it's easier that way than having to raise and lower the flag every morning and evening as would be required under proper flag etiquette.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    And moving right along...

    Part 7: Going Out to Socialize With Grim Grinning Ghosts (In which we find out if things really do turn into pumpkins after Midnight...)

    After taking a break for a while, at the hotel, it was time to head back over to the parks, but after dealing with the hotel buses earlier in the day, I was ready to look for alternate routes to get to the park to see if they were any faster. Since I also hadn't really gotten my bearings on the place just yet, I hadn't quite figured out how to walk to DTD from the park yet either.

    I ended up catching the hotel bus to DTD, which I soon found to be a waste of time. As discussed in a previous post, the DTD bus stops at each of the 6 hotels to pick up/drop off passengers, then drops people off between PI and DTD Marketplace, but a fair distance from the entrance itself. From the Hilton, there's really no point taking this bus at all, unless you were going to T-Rex or one of the PI places and wanted to walk a little bit less to get there. For pretty much everything else, walking across to Marketplace and taking the water taxi across to the westside (if applicable) would be quicker. Of course, I didn't figure any of this out until later, but for now, I was at DTD, where I wandered around the place to take a look around, then spent a bit of time browsing at World of Disney (at some point, I'm going to do a roundup of odd souvenirs found at Disney World, so I was finding things for that) and eventually wandered over to Ghirardelli for an ice cream cone (lunch!) After getting the ice cream, I eventually found my way over to the buses, looking to try using Disney transportation to see if it worked out any better than the DTD buses. The only problem was that I really didn't quite know what I was doing yet, so I wasn't sure which bus to take to get where. Eventually I settled on one that I knew would get me close (Contemporary) and waited about 10-15 minutes while I finished off my ice cream for the bus to arrive.



    After getting off the bus at the Contemporary, I proceeded toward the monorail station, but ended up wandering around the place a bit along the way, into the Fantasia gift shop and the video arcade (I was just looking to see what they had there, and didn't play anything) before heading up to grab a monorail into the park.



    There was also a chorus of Christmas carolers singing in the atrium when I was there. I'm not sure if they were CMs or just a group that happened to be there performing, but they were pretty good. I listened while waiting for the monorail to arrive.



    I hadn't really figured out the monorails yet, so it wasn't until I got there that I figured out the monorails would be going in the "wrong" direction to get there.



    In order to get there quicker, I ended up hopping off at the TTC, heading up and around over to the MK monorail, then getting on that one to finally get back into the park. This was an EMH evening, so I figured it would be a good time to catch a few rides after the fireworks.



    Unfortunately, I arrived a bit too late to catch the Spectromagic parade (one of only two performances scheduled for my trip) and got there about a half hour before the evening fireworks.



    The obligatory nighttime castle shot (well one of them anyway, I think I took about 20.)

    In the meantime, I went looking for something to eat, and wandered over toward Cosmic Ray's, but found the lines rather long, and I might have been hard pressed to get out in time for the fireworks. I figured out that one of the stations would remain open after the fireworks, and settled in to find a spot in the hub. The spot I settled in wasn't the greatest place (among other things, there was a balloon in the way that you can see in most of the shots) but I still managed to see it pretty well, and I also managed to get several good pictures of the fireworks as well. You can see that the balloon actually added an interesting reflection to a few of these.















    After the completion of the fireworks show, I went back to Cosmic Ray's to grab some dinner (a chili dog and fries) and wait for the non-EMH crowds to clear out somewhat



    The place was still fairly busy, but the lines weren't too bad, and I was able to find a spot with a view:



    After eating, I headed back out to go ride Buzz Lightyear again (this time on a much shorter wait than before, but still long enough to get a good look at the queue area, and note some of the scenery:



    If it's supposed to be a secret mission, why is it plastered all over the galactic map?



    And while we're on the subject, Is this supposed to be a wanted poster, or Emperor Zurg's PR campaign? I can't tell the difference. Anyway, I slightly improved on my earlier score this time around, but still didn't do all that great.





    If I had thought about it, this might have been a good time to go ride Space Mountain again, but instead I went back toward Adventureland, where I went on the Jungle Cruise again (and had a really funny guide this time around,) then rode Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion again (Big Thunder Mountain Railroad still had a 30 minute wait and no more FPs available, or I would have gone on it as well. Splash Mountain had 10 minutes, but I didn't particularly care to get wet at this time.) I also made it onto IASW again with a short wait (although I'm not sure why exactly I needed to ride it again in the first place.)



    One more nighttime castle shot, for good measure,



    And one of Main Street off in the distance.



    Finally, with about a half hour before the park was set to close, I decided that even though I could easily get in another ride or two I was getting worn out and that it might not be a bad idea to beat the rush out of the park, so I headed for the exit and grabbed the monorail back to the TTC for the bus back to the hotel. Since the Hilton is the only DTD hotel with the EMH benefit, this was a direct bus (not that it mattered much, since the Hilton is the first stop on the route and after AK has closed for the evening it doesn't stop there anymore.)

    Shortly after I made it back into the hotel, I began to get hungry again, but by the time I realized this it was already Midnight, and the options for food seem to diminish greatly at that point. Nothing on the very limited overnight room service menu looked all that great (and the stuff was hideously overpriced too,) all the stuff in DTD Marketplace had closed by this time, and even though the hotel lounge was open, apparently they stop serving food after midnight too. It looked like my only option was the hotel's 24-hour market, which was just about as hideously overpriced as everything else in the place. I even wandered over to DTD and found things to be closed, and was told the closest option would be the McDonalds outside of the park (which I didn't particularly feel like walking to.) After a fair bit of wandering, I finally settled on a cheese danish from the hotel market that was only ridiculously overpriced instead of hideously overpriced, and ate it shortly before taking a lukewarm shower (see my previous comment about the hot water being imported from France) and settled in for a short Winter's nap.


    Coming up: Part 8 - It's the FUTURE... sort of. (The beginning of day 2, in which I go back and do the stuff I was supposed to do on day 1.
     
  • Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    As a quick note, I would also like to remind people that there's an alternate version of this trip report that I have been posting to my Blog. Basically, what I have been doing is taking a couple of parts of the trip report at a time as written here and combining them into a Blog post. I'm also going back and making a few modifications and extra notes here and there, and trying to cut out some of the DIS jargon to make it a bit more accessible to general readers. You can find the Blog posts here:

    Part 1: Getting There is Half the Fun, Right? (Parts 1, 2 and 3)
    Part 2: Now with Actual Disney in it! (Parts 4 and 5)
    Part 3: Just Another Day in Never Never Land (Parts 6 and 7)
     

    All7OfUs

    <font color=darkorchid>We too are so very NOT into
    Joined
    Dec 12, 2007
    So glad I had a few minutes to catch up with your great trip report! Your pictures are amazing- I love them! I think I would have been a little perturbed too at the lack of eating options- Let's face it, when you're hungry you need something now! Not in the morning! Bummer about that-

    Anyway, keep up the good work, I do love forward to reading about your adventure :thumbsup2
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    So glad I had a few minutes to catch up with your great trip report! Your pictures are amazing- I love them! I think I would have been a little perturbed too at the lack of eating options- Let's face it, when you're hungry you need something now! Not in the morning! Bummer about that-

    Anyway, keep up the good work, I do love forward to reading about your adventure :thumbsup2

    If I had a bit better idea of what I was doing, I could have probably wandered over to PI and found something still open (although that may not be the case anymore.) At that point I might have even just sprung for hotel room service, but even the regular room service menu there had nothing of interest, much less the bare bones late night menu. Once I figured out the dining options, I made sure to get the eating done earlier in the evening, so this happened only once. Of course, given the fact that I tend to normally operate on a late schedule (I find myself having "breakfast" around Noon a lot these days) this took a bit of adjustment. In hindsight, I'd say the lack of planning with regards to food was probably one of the biggest mistakes I made on the trip (second of course to only allowing four days there, but I think I've already said that.)

    Anyway, the next installment should be coming in the next day or two.
     

    GreatBiscuit

    Golden but never flaky
    Joined
    Aug 20, 1999
    I just found my way over to your TR and have enjoyed it thoroughly. The beagle shot cracked me up as the one on the right is a dead ringer for our beagle Pippy. Could have been a twin. Or a 150k clone. I look forward to future installments.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    I just found my way over to your TR and have enjoyed it thoroughly. The beagle shot cracked me up as the one on the right is a dead ringer for our beagle Pippy. Could have been a twin. Or a 150k clone. I look forward to future installments.
    Welcome aboard, glad you're enjoying the TR so far. I've seen one or two other dogs that look a lot like Minardi, and I've heard other owners at the dog park say that they think there might be a bit of Jack Russell Terrier in her to get that distinctive facial coloring. She's a very friendly dog, but in many ways she is very different from Imola and many of the other Beagles I know in personality. Imola always wants to be right in the center of the action and loves attention, where Minardi likes to keep her distance somewhat and find a quiet out-of-the-way place to rest (although she will want attention every once in a while too.) Minardi is also better behaved than Imola... Most of the time, anyway. You can see a bit more on their respective personalities here from when I was dogsitting last Spring:

    http://thesledgehammer.wordpress.com/2008/04/29/beaglefest-2008-tale-of-the-tape/
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    And as promised earlier, it's time to kick off day 2.

    Part 8: It's the FUTURE... Sort of. (In which I go back and do the stuff I was supposed to do yesterday, travel halfway around the world in 180 minutes, and wonder why the heck I was trying to find Nemo in the first place...)

    =====

    Once again, the alarm went off at 7:30am in the morning, and once again, the late night bedtime left me somewhat less than enthusiastic about getting up that early, so I hit the snooze for an hour and zonked out again. After about five minutes of sleep (well, it was actually an hour, it just seemed like five minutes) I decided that I should probably just go ahead and get up. After all the walking around yesterday, I wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders this morning, but I quickly got ready for the day (I'm not the type to linger around and take my time getting ready. When I'm at home it usually takes me about fifteen minutes to get out of bed, get ready for work and head out the door) and headed out the door to catch the bus for Epcot, which is what I had planned to do yesterday but ended up at MK instead. In the process I forgot to remove the Do Not Disturb tag from the door of my hotel room, so housekeeping never serviced the room, but this wasn't a big deal, since at home I'm not exactly a neat and tidy person.

    Back before I threw yesterday's plans out the proverbial window, the plan was for today to be spent completely in the Magic Kingdom, since today was my MVMCP day. Of course, since I ended up spending all of yesterday (including an EMH evening) there, today's plan ended up being yesterday's original plan, which was to start out at Epcot and head to MK later on in the day.



    This time around I managed to actually get onto the correct bus, and after the bus ride I made it to Epcot... Well, the charter parking lot of Epcot anyway. Much as it is at the TTC, the DTD hotel bus dropoff at Epcot is a fair distance away from the park gate (Looking at distances on Live Search Maps, it's about a quarter of a mile from the DTD bus dropoff to the Epcot gate, or roughly a mile away from the backside of World Showcase where I ended up watching Illuminations from, but I'll get to that later.)



    Upon entering Epcot, I ended up riding Spaceship Earth first, mostly because it showed a 5 minute wait and I was already sore from the cumulative effects of yesterday's touring and the long walk from the bus dropoff, and it looked like a good place to sit down. There was also the fact that in spite of the research I had done before the trip I still has no clue what was actually in here, and wanted to know what the thing was besides a freakishly huge golfball.



    I'm going to guess that this probably isn't the best picture that's ever been taken of me.



    Having sated my curiosity somewhat, I then proceeded into Future World, toward the east side, but not before noting that Soarin' was already showing a 100-minute wait time by now.



    When I got to Test Track, I found a 50 minute wait in the regular line but only 15 minutes in the single-rider line, which turned out to be less than 5 minutes to actually get onto the ride. This didn't leave much time to check out the queue, but I'll take a five minute wait where I can get it, especially on one of the more popular rides.



    I then ended up over at Mission Space, where it took about fifteen minutes of waiting to get in on the green side (Orange side was 25 minutes at this time.)



    At this point, it seemed like I had been having some pretty good luck with the rides (even though there was no way in heck I was going to test out the 100-minute Soarin' line at this point) so I decided to head across the park and try my luck on The Seas with Nemo and Friends... Once I could actually find it, anyway. I was having a bit of trouble getting my bearings at this point still, and had to follow signs to figure out exactly where I was going. Oh yeah, and I never got around to riding Ellen's Energy Adventure either. In fact, it would turn out that I didn't ride anything in Epcot (except for Spaceship Earth) more than once on this trip.



    I did eventually make it over there without getting too hopelessly lost (although I did briefly end up wandering through Innoventions on the way there,) and the sign outside showed a 10-minute wait, even though the line was out the door by this time. I probably should have taken that as a sign that the line might have been somewhat in excess of 10 minutes, but since I didn't know what I was getting myself into I just got into the line, figuring it couldn't be that bad. After getting through the first room of the queue I figured it couldn't be too much longer. Then I reached the second room, and I began to suspect that the 10-minute estimate was just a bit off. By the time I reached the third room I was questioning what the heck I had gotten myself into, and finally after 30 minutes in line I reached the ride, and shortly afterward found myself wondering what the heck I had bothered waiting for.









    Aside from the fact that I have never been much of a fan of Finding Nemo, the ride seemed rather short and rather disappointing. If I had known what was in store I would have just gone into the place via the gift shop to see the aquariums and called it good. In spite of the disappointing ride, I actually enjoyed watching the aquariums for a while (mostly because I've always been interested in the underwater world, and I could sort of find a place to sit down for a few minutes) but couldn't really get more than a couple of good pictures. I'll have to come back here (through the back, of course) and spend a bit more time here on my next trip.

    I ended up passing by the Land pavilion (Soarin' was still too long a wait to bother with at this point, and had a FP return time later in the day than I was planning to be at Epcot) and went on Journey into Imagination next (with a 10-minute wait.) This was another ride that I had basically no idea of what was here before I rode it, and although I see a number of people here who much preferred the older version (I suspect the same could be said of The Living Seas) I couldn't tell you which one is better. After this, It was about Noon, and having not eaten breakfast in the morning I was getting a bit hungry, so I headed over toward World Showcase next, hoping to grab a bite in Mexico.



    I first checked the San Angel Inn at Mexico since the board at Guest Services had suggested there might be available seating there, but when I arrived there the line was rather long, so I decided to skip it. On the other hand, the Gran Fiesta Tour was basically a walk-on at this point, so I went ahead and rode it while I was there. I then went outside to the Cantina de San Angel (the counter service place) where the lines seemed fairly short. I then waited... and waited... and waited... After 20 minutes of being second in line and not moving much anywhere, I was beginning to get really hungry, and I was also beginning to suspect that I could starve in this line. Having already had experience with starving on vacation, I decided to cut my losses and look for a plan B. I walked over to China, where I was able to be seated immediately at Nine Dragons in spite of the lack of a reservation. In fact, the place didn't look all that busy.



    The server (I unfortunately can't recall his name) was quite nice here, and provided some tips and recommendations on the World Showcase since it was my first time there, and a crayon with which to try out the Chinese characters on the placemat. Given the fact that I can barely manage to write legibly in my own language, my results weren't so great here either.





    I ordered the Hot and Sour Soup and the Pepper Beef. Both were pretty good, although this place was definitely a bit pricier than the local Chinese take-out. I wasn't really paying much attention to the price though since I was hungry, needed a place to sit down for a bit, and (as I would find out later on) the Mexico CS place wasn't really all that great anyway. Besides, my Mother (as I have mentioned previously, a seasoned traveler herself) has always told me that if I am going to spend the money to take a vacation in the first place, there's no point in penny-pinching when I get there.





    After finishing off lunch, I continued wandering around the World Showcase in the clockwise direction, Browsing through the shops in China, the Outpost, Germany and Italy (When I start wrapping up the trip report, I'll discuss this in a bit more detail.)



    As I was getting ready to leave Italy the World Showcase Players began the Romeo and Edna show, and since I wasn't in that big a hurry to keep walking, I decided to stop and watch.



    They just look like they're MADE for each other, don't they?

    Once everyone managed to figure out how to live happily ever after, I continued on my trip around the world, although I ended up bypassing the American Adventure since I figured I'd have time to get back to it later (I didn't) and headed next for Japan.



    When I got there, the Taiko drummers were peforming.I didn't stick around long to watch though



    The obligatory "Spaceship Earth through the gate" shot. I don't know who any of those people are though. Anyway, I wandered through the Mitsukoshi shop in Japan for a while (interesting place, but I didn't see much of anything I couldn't live without) then continued on to Morocco, where I didn't stay long, but did get a couple of photos.





    At this point, it was starting to get toward the time to think about heading toward the Magic Kingdom for MVMCP. Rather than walk back (If you can't tell, I was already getting just a bit sick of walking by this time) I opted to take the boat back across the lagoon.



    Since I'm hitting the image limit at this point, I will continue from here in the next installment...

    =====

    Next up - Part 9: Merry Enough For You? (Back to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and how not to choose a good spot for the parade...)
     

    All7OfUs

    <font color=darkorchid>We too are so very NOT into
    Joined
    Dec 12, 2007
    i think my favorite shot this time is the one of the fountain. I especially like the drops at the top against the sky :thumbsup2

    Seems like no matter how long I take cruising around the WS, it's never enough. Last time I got about 1/2 a day there, and was utterly disappointed!

    Looking forward to the MVMCP you got to go to. Give us lots of pics! :)
     

    GreatBiscuit

    Golden but never flaky
    Joined
    Aug 20, 1999
    Given the fact that I can barely manage to write legibly in my own language, my results weren't so great here either.
    :rotfl2: :lmao: I feel your pain! I hate having to hand write anything because I can never read it later. Loved the update and photos.
     

    Vexorg

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 8, 2006
    i think my favorite shot this time is the one of the fountain. I especially like the drops at the top against the sky :thumbsup2

    Seems like no matter how long I take cruising around the WS, it's never enough. Last time I got about 1/2 a day there, and was utterly disappointed!

    Looking forward to the MVMCP you got to go to. Give us lots of pics! :)
    I like the fountain shot too. My camera seems to do pretty well with those types of shots, at least once I figured out to half-press the shutter button to let it do its autofocusing voodoo before taking the shot. I still wish I had a DSLR, but those tend to be a little big to fit in a pocket. Canon makes some nice little cameras, and this one sees heavy use not only on vacation, but on a lot of my Blog projects as well.

    I was in WS several times on this trip, but I still didn't feel like I had enough time to really see it, particularly the France/UK/Canada side. I'll have to be sure to make a couple more ADRs here before I go again, maybe that'll keep me there longer.

    :rotfl2: :lmao: I feel your pain! I hate having to hand write anything because I can never read it later. Loved the update and photos.
    Thanks. I'm afraid I might have to skip the Alice photos though, just to be on the safe side.
     



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